Burning the (Clean) Midnight Oil
Three current Full-time MBA participants will pitch their innovative Cleantech business idea, Connex Investments, to a judging panel at the Venture Cup Idea Competition finals set to take place in Århus at the beginning of February. They will be one of eight finalists in their category, Clean Technologies, and one of the forty ideas that made it to this final stage (out of nearly 400 that were submitted).
Connex Investments is a culmination of afternoons and nights spent in a study room at the Raavare building at Porcelaenshaven, where the MBA participants take their classes. In between the studying, Nick Ariens (American); Richard Hungerford (Canadian) and Michael Tong (American) bonded over their passion for entrepreneurship and wanted to combine their Project Implementation, Clean Technology and Portfolio Management skills, respectively, to bring something new to the market.
Filling the Gap
The trio sees a gap in the fast growing Cleantech market, where there are so many ‘amazing new technologies’, but companies (that are constantly under pressure to be energy efficient and environmentally responsible) cannot implement them for lack of funds and/or specialized knowledge about retro fits. At the same time, there aren’t many funds that can provide investors with an opportunity to invest in a ‘pure green’ investment as the Connex Investments team calls it.
What Does that Mean?
The answer to that is directly tied to how Connex Investments proposes to work. They will finance a clean tech retrofit project at a company. The said company continues to pay the same energy bill as they did pre-retrofit and the post-retrofit savings on the energy bill will be paid into the fund. The fund grows in this way. Investors get a return. The company meets legal requirements without breaking the bank, while simultaneously having a positive impact on the environment.
Any Expected Challenges Ahead?
The trio knows that, like with any new idea, it is not an easy road ahead and this idea might be difficult to sell to investors. “It’s a different way of investing,” says Richard, “in that it focuses on energy savings as ROI. This goes against the status quo, where growth is based purely on earnings,” he adds. Over the next few months, as the program continues, they will be refining the idea.
“Winning the competition will give us more confidence in our venture. We are all entrepreneurial and our ultimate goal is to create and run our own companies. However, regardless of whether we win or not, we will gain great feedback, which can build off of,” says Michael.
Working on Connex is also good practice for these three entrepreneurs who will not only need to demonstrate their understanding of business development and entrepreneurship as a skill for their Entrepreneurship module, but also help to solve a strategic challenge for a company later this year during the Full-time MBA’s final 4-month challenge, the Integrated Strategy Project.